“What was protected and passed down to us, must not be twisted. The true intention and main concept must be passed on from one generation to the next”. The inherent meaning of this quote becomes deeper and wider as passes. We believe this to be the divine mandate of those who endeavor to inherit the spirit of traditional crafting skills. In Kyoto, where numerous beautiful art forms were nurtured and displayed through a rich history of more than 1200 years, it was Heian Bukyu,that forged the heart, skill and legitimacy that composes the tradition and legacy of “Kyoto products”. To preserve and spread the knowledge of the heart and soul of Japan’s traditional crafting techniques, Bukyu is committed to explaining in detail, the depth and spirit involved in celebrating Gogatsuningyo, the May Boys Doll festival, armor and helmets, and the milestones of seasonal festival.
- 1.Hoe Model
- Two brass plates are stacked and the shape of a hoe is cut from an outline (at this time, paper is placed on the brass to eliminate scratching)
- The paper is then removed and the stem of the hoe is pounded one strike at a time, or, it is polished as is, and gold plating is applied.
- Iron plates are cut into a rectangular shape, bent and holes are created in the sheets. Each sheet is clinched to another sheet one at a time by hand. (If the strength of the clinching is too strong or too weak it will not create the required beautiful circular shape.)
- 3.Gold Leafing
- The gold leafing used is pure gold leaf with a purity level higher than 95.5%. Lacquer is applied to a small plate by a painter after which the tool master applies the gold leaf by hand, one at a time.
- A pedestal used to display helmets and armor. It also functions as storage chest. Karatsu upholstery is applied to the wood in addition to an undercoat, middle coat, and top coat. The wood is polished to bring out the pattern of the grain, then lacquered and decorated with gold plating and other metal adornments to create the finished product.
- 5.Kazarikanagu（Metal Ornaments)
- Using hardware carved by an engraver as an archetype, a dissolution tank is used and electroforming is performed for about 6 days to mold copper to the hardware. Final cutting and filing is done by hand for each individual piece and gold plating is applied as a finish.
- A flat stringed chord with silk threads assembled in tufts and threads.
- 7.Rear Side of the Helmet
- The rear of the Helmet is quilted and sewn in with thread.
- 8.Dragon Head (Crown)
- The crown is a wood carving with sticking gold leaf that has been carefully designed to keep the crown and helmet in perfect vigorous balance.
- All the straps are made entirely of silk. They are connected using a technique full of vitality and are fitted so as to not leave any gaps, creating a plump, luxurious feeling.
- One by one, round rings are made, and joined to triangular rings to create a single chain.
- Both ends of the tasset bend up to express its dynamic, brilliant beauty and maintain the balance of the whole set.
- The knot of the belt can actually be untied.
- 13.Shin・Hair footwear
- Please be aware of the certainty of the shin and hair footwear.
- Using pure silk thread that is bundled together by gluing threads individually, the beard is arranged into a natural shape.
- 15.Tree Stand
- This stand is used to display the helmet and armor and is referred to as the “tree core”. Within stand are numerous innovations in place that are hard to notice at first glance. There is much more to the tree core than the simple joining of blocks of unfinished wood. In particular, the extremely durable wood of the Amur Cork tree is used and completed with a lacquer finish.
- Everything is hand-made and created one piece at a time and finished with meticulous thought and care.
HistoryHistorically, armor and helmets were not only used on the battle field. This idea was supported and believed with hope and admiration by the people of the Sengoku Period (around 1467 - 1568). Within the genealogy of this time, existed numerous legendary Sengoku warriors: “Shingen Takeda the Brave”, “Ieyasu Tokugawa the Wise” and other famous epithets that have been remembered throughout history such as “Masamune Date the Superior”. With their intelligence and artistic sense, their distinctive personalities and preeminent tales have been passed on for generations. During this time, armor and helmets were believed to deliver intense charms to their users in the form of symbols that represented the spirit within the armor. This idea gave birth to the practice of creating armor with a sense of pride in one’s own craftwork, and led to the belief that a craftsman was of equal importance to a military commander. Eventually peaceful times prevailed, and in a world without war, people began to distance themselves from the practice of using armor and helmets. The aristocratic and samurai families would dedicate these items to shrines in hopes that prosperity and health would be bestowed upon their children. It continues to exist to this day as symbol of a military commander (male) and his bravery, beauty and spirituality, brought about by the spirit within the armor and helmet that he donned.
The Traditional Craftsman Profile
Armor and Helmet
- Armor is a garment and weapon that protects the wearer's body from attacks from weapons such as arrows and swords during battle. Its main purpose is to protect the fuselage and chest section that contains vital organs. The materials chosen to create armor are extremely varied with leather, bronze and iron being used. In addition, various other materials are selected, including iron processed into sheets or fashioned into chains. There are also elements that combine wood boards, iron and bronze platelets connected by strings, and chains made from numerous iron and bronze rings.
- A Helmet (kabuto) is a type of armor used to protect the head from hitting, slashing and flying or falling objects, etc. The term “Kabuto” refers to head armor used for war in ancient times. As it is used in tandem with coat mail and armor, this set is referred to as “katchu” in Japanese. Like the medieval Japanese helmet, in addition to having a function, it seems that it was also used to dignify the wearer.
Evidence of Handed Down Traditional CraftworkThe medals attached to the armor and helmets stand alone as proof that they have been made using traditional methods and guarantee that they have been made by masters of the Kyoto Rakuchu-kai. The medals display the excellent traditional techniques that are applied to every nuance of the works. At the same time, they also convey a sign of trust that is linked to the hope for children's health wished for by family offerings that were given to the historic shrine in Kyoto.
Festival of Boys and the May Doll (Children's Day)Celebrating the birth of a male and wishing for healthy growth, the Festival of Tango no sekku is an event that dates to the Nara period. “Tan” meaning “the first”, is combined with “Go” to create “Tango”, which means the beginning of the month of the horse. The Japanese symbol for horse can also be read as “Go”. As the symbol for Horse is said to be a bad omen in China, it became common practice to make amulets with medicinal herbs such as irises and wormwood to avoid any disasters that may be brought on by this omen. In the Japanese language, the symbols for ”horse” and “five” are homonyms and can both be pronounced as “Go”. Thus, May 5th was decided as the date for “Tango no sekku” as May 5th falls on the fifth day of the fifth month. Furthermore, as the "iris" is a sign of bravery, was valued in war, and associated with victory, the symbol of the iris became associated with the May 5th Boy's festival. This was adopted because the festival celebrates the successful growth of a strong male, who historically would likely have become a warrior. Through this rich history, a custom of decorating weapons, armor, helmets etc. with certain symbols was born. In addition, in the Edo period as the yearning of the samurai strengthened, the practice of citizens and merchants decorating armor and helmets began to spread. The goal of this was to wish upon children success in their life and future. "Children's Day" was officially recognized as a national holiday in 1952, propagating the significance of bestowing wishes upon children’s futures. The celebration of growth at the Festival of Boys and the May Doll is filled with the wishes from their families.
- Postal code
- 358 Wakamatsucho Kamigyo-ku Kyoto-shi Kyoto